Understanding Cave Script: Three
The simplest elements of Cave Script are combinations of one or more dots and lines. Such symbols convey the idea of something. They have only a limited pictographic element and cannot be deciphered without knowing the context. A good example of this is found in the foaling panel at Grotte Le Cuzoul des Brasconies. The neighbouring panel depicting the brood mare gives us the context in which to decipher the foaling panel.
Let’s consider another example (left). It is extracted from a diagram on a cave wall. Any ideas? To decipher the script, we need to know the context. It also helps to have a little insider knowledge about glyph usage conventions. That is what we get from Chinese.
The cave containing this example is located near a river. Other panels in the cave depict what could be dykes or levees. There is a dyke near the cave.
Now that we know the context, and the glyph usage conventions, we can decipher the script (below).
Hence we can conclude that the diagram depicts a hydraulic engineering project.
A change in the orientation of a symbol will change its meaning for example up and down. Interestingly, Xu Shen only classifies up as a radical. Down is regarded as being derived from up.
Images: Shuowen Jiezi: research tool
Hydraulic engineering project diagrams: Drawings: Lynn Fawcett, April 2013: After Jean-Daniel Larribau, 1982: Traits gravés no 22 (part of image): Jean-Daniel Larribau, June 2011: La Grotte d’Oxocelhaya – Synthèse des découvertes – Art pariétal préhistorique du Pays Basque (Isturitz-Oxocelhaya-Erberua), les presses d’ICN à Orthez, firstname.lastname@example.org
Seal script characters: Shuowenjiezi: research tool in Chinese traditional philology: http://www.shuowenjiezi.com/